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February 2, 2007

Expert on Bayeux Tapestry to present at ULM Feb. 8

On Thursday, Feb. 8, Martin Foys will present "You Can't Keep a Good King Down: The Death and Resurrection of Harold Godwinson, the Last Anglo-Saxon King" at the ULM Library, 7th floor at 5:30 p.m. There is no charge to attend.

Foys is an expert on the Bayeux Tapestry, reportedly commissioned in the 1070s by the Bishop Odo of Bayeux, half-brother of William the Conqueror. The original tapestry is 230 feet long and is on display at Bayeux in Normandy, France. It commemorates William the Conqueror’s triumph over Harold Godwinson in the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

It is not meant to hang from a wall, but rather to box the walls around the observer, so that whenever a person enters the room with the tapestry, they see stories on every side, told in every direction—up, down, diagonal, across, and backwards. The tapestry is a mixture of icons, images, inscriptions, and borders.

“Many people are interested in things Anglo-Saxon, the survival and revival of ancient ideas and in ways to explore how the past continues to influence modern lives,” said Claudia Grinnell, an assistant professor of English at ULM and director of the writing center. “Dr. Foys, in his scholarship, seeks to combine the very old with the very new, as is evidenced in his teaching interests. I think that his presentation will have relevancy and will resonate with many people who have these interests.”

Until Foys’ recent work digitizing the Bayeux Tapestry, the only copies of it were in books. He created a CD that allows scrolling to see the whole tapestry in detail without breaking up its pieces. The CD also includes a bibliography of almost every scholarly work written about the tapestry. By creating this tool with numerous links, Foys embraced hypertext theory, allowing the reader to learn about the tapestry in any direction that he or she chooses.

He is an assistant professor of English and currently teaches at Hood College in Frederick, Md. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Drew University in Madison, N.J., and earned both his master's and Ph.D. from Loyola University in Chicago, where he also taught during graduate school.

After graduating in 1998, he worked as an English professor at Florida State University. He also spent a year teaching at the University of Hull in England.

At Hood, Foys specializes in early English and medieval literature. He teaches these subjects along with the history of the English language and composition, with a focus on the meaning of the term "medieval" in modern times.

Foys has written a book and numerous articles, including ones for The Tolkien Encyclopedia. He enjoys lecturing around the world and has been invited to speak at prestigious institutions such as John Hopkins University, Yale University, and Cambridge University as well as to present papers at Stanford University and Oxford University.

He is also interested in computer technology and has plans to develop a course on how the new media of video, digital technology and computers have affected the way people read, as well as bringing more technology-based resources into the classroom.

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